What message are we sending our youth?
I am writing to convey my concerns about the proposed supervised consumption site for Medicine Hat.
My understanding of what I will refer to as ‘the injection site’ is that it is coming to Medicine Hat as a health initiative mandated by the federal and provincial governments. I am concerned specifically about how this site may impact children and young people. What message are we sending the next generation?
As parents and teachers, we explain to our children that drugs are dangerous and habitforming, and that they should “just say no.” However:
* As government, we use health-care dollars to build and maintain a space where people addicted to drugs are invited to consume drugs, under supervision.
Message received: If you are supervised, taking drugs is OK.
* As law enforcement, we allow drug buying and selling within a radius of the injection site, to permit clients to purchase them without fear of being charged.
Message received: Selling drugs can be safe and profitable. (i.e. four block radius established by the City of Vancouver: ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/eganpolice-eye-on-the-needle-at-lowertown-safeinjection-site )
* As health-care providers, we (sometimes) test the drugs coming into the injection site to determine their composition.
Message received: Taking drugs is OK as long as you know what it is. If we have failed to educate our kids about drugs, that is one thing.
It is quite another thing if we are confusing kids with mixed messages. That is not “harm reduction.”
That is a moral and legal tarpit. Government leaders are faced with a lot of noise on this issue.
In the middle of it all, as they consider questions of zoning, policing, funding, liability, etc., please remember this: there are children and young people who are drug-free.
In the context of government-imposed injection sites, what is our governments’ plan to keep them that way?